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Saturday, 12 November 2011
Advice for Indie Authors: How do I get those reviews?!
But I have also had good feedback from women who have read the book, as they were intrigued (and a lot of the times appalled!) at what goes through a mans head. It was often getting called chick-lit for men so I sent the book out to a few of the womens magazines like Glamour.
I also decided that some press coverage would be nice, but perhaps the readers of The Times or The Guardian were not ready for my book- not yet anyway. I went with my own advice to stick with the local papers. After all, I had been given some pretty good coverage in the local press so far. I sent copies to papers such as The Evening Standard and the London edition of the Metro.
That was two months ago and guess how many reviews I got? That's right - a big fat zero!
It is tough. A lot of these publications are inundated with similar requests, and unfortunately there is still a stigma attached when it comes to self-published novels. Maybe because publications get so many self-published novels that they have to draw a line, maybe a lot of the really badly written self-published novels harm the chances of those well-written novels, or perhaps there is an element of snobbery. I would guess one of the main reasons is that it is a much safer option for a publication to review a novel by an established author or to accept work from a big publishing house.
The guys at Glamour magazine did actually reply, but they had already gone to press and therefore missed my publication date so the opportunity had gone. I learned a valuable lesson though, and that is to make sure you send copies of your novel out at least 4-6 weeks prior to publication date.
So now I was back to square one. I had yet to get my book reviewed anywhere other than Amazon - and then I had an idea! When you look at reviews on Amazon you will often see certain reviewers have a ranking such as Top 100 Reviewer. These are the people who have not only reviewed the most products on Amazon, but they have also been ranked the most helpful by other customers. In other words, people trust these reviewers.
If you have a bit of time on your hands, then it is well worth searching through the list of Amazon's Top Customer Reviewers and looking at the type of items they most commonly review. Most of the reviewers will have contact details, so I contacted a dozen reviewers and asked if they would be interested in reviewing The Drought if I sent them a copy.
Two replied and said they would be happy to review it, but offered no promises in terms of giving it a postive review. They would read it and give it a fair and honest review. I was more than happy with this arrangement - after all, this is what a review is all about. You have to be confident in your work.
I sent the copies off and I am pleased to say that this week I had my first review from one of the Top Customer Reviewers. It was given a five-star thumbs up and as an added bonus, in turns out that this particular reviewer has her own book review website and uploaded her review at BestBooksToRead.co.uk.
I could not have hoped for a better review, but it also made me realise that there are dozens of independent online book review websites - all with an audience of keen book readers. This is now starting to get interesting again!